The answers to these questions allow us to understand the very essence of the dilemma, many Italian immigrants faced as they made the decision to leave their homeland and begin the long journey to a world where the streets were paved with gold.
On August 15, 1951 Vincenzo Caccioppoli arrived at a very tiny train station in New Hamburg, Ontario after a 14-day journey across the Atlantic. He carried his only worldly possessions in a small suitcase. He was greeted with joy by his sister Emilia and her husband, George who had immigrated a year early, as part of a post war recruitment of immigrants in a flourishing post war world. Rita, would arrive a year later.
Upon setting foot in Canada, his world of song, sun and family would soon be replaced by long cold winters and feelings of loneliness. A real culture shock for anyone.
The first couple years were difficult as they struggled with the language, the task of adapting to the Canadian way of life and the constant wonderment of whether or not they made the right decision.
Vincenzo Caccioppoli worked hard and long hours during those first few years in Canada, working at the factory during the day and the hot tobacco fields during the evenings and weekends. However, he was always looking for a better life! Having settled down in a farming community he decided to purchase a small farm and try his luck at farming. Vincenzo quickly realised that farming was not for him and sold the farm in 1962.
Another challenge in the mid 1950's was finding authentic Italian food. The only place around the Waterloo County area, was the Italian food store in Kitchener, Forte's Grocery Store. For the next ten years, my parents would drive to this store, where they and other homesick Italian immigrants could purchase Italian foods. It was a place where they would meet others from their homeland, mingle and reminisce of their Italy. It was during those trips to that small store, the seed was planted in my father's head, to perhaps one day open up a store of his own.
In 1963, my father was offered an opportunity to return to his hometown in Italy. He was promised a managerial position in Castellammare di Stabia. Knowing some English by now, the job opportunity seemed so perfect that my parents packed up 4 young children, sold all their possessions and sailed back to Italy.
Day by day my father waited patiently as this perfect job never materialized. Money was running scarce and my father soon decided he could not wait any longer. Once again, he packed up his family and returned to Canada.